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September 23, 10

NEWS / Ukraine to host UN-backed forum marking Chernobyl anniversary

23 September 2010 – Ukraine will host a high-level United Nations-backed conference next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident and assess the progress towards restoring and normalizing life in the region affected by the disaster.

The country’s President Viktor Yanukovych told the opening day of the General Assembly’s annual General Debate today that the forum will be held in Kyiv, the capital, next April, and will also discuss nuclear safety issues.

“That tragedy is still an open wound for us,” said Mr. Yanukovych, referring to the 26 April 1986 accident at the Chernobyl power plant in the then Soviet Union. An estimated 8 million people in what is now Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were exposed to radiation, and thousands contracted thyroid cancer and other diseases.

“Overcoming its consequences remains a serious challenge for the international community as the scale of the problems requires a coordinated effort involving all of our international partners,” he added.

The General Assembly has declared 2006-2016 the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of the Affected Regions, urging assistance for Chernobyl-affected communities to return to a normal life. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has prepared a so-called UN Chernobyl Action Plan to boost life in affected areas.

In his address to the General Assembly today Mr. Yanukovych also stressed the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

He noted that his country announced in April that it was eradicating its stocks of highly enriched uranium, and he also welcomed the signing of a new disarmament treaty between the United States and Russia.

“The experience of the recent decades shows that nuclear weapons do not always increase security. Moreover, the countries that try to acquire nuclear weapons may be exposed to the impact of new risks and become more vulnerable.”

The President called for a legally binding international instrument to provide security countries for all countries that have disposed of their nuclear arsenals or that do not belong to any military alliance.

“This is the best way to ward off regional nuclear ambitions,” he said.




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